Alumni

Justin Thomas, Managing Director, Bon Bon Buddies Ltd

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We caught up with one of our Executive Alumni, Justin Thomas, and talked staff empowerment, challenging the perceptions of leadership and of course, chocolate! 

“I am currently the Managing Director of Bon Bon Buddies Ltd, a licensed character confectionery company.  We work with some of the world’s leading entertainment and toy brands, and have six dedicated sales and logistics facilities across Europe and the Middle East. The company continues to go from strength to strength, and in 2013 we were proud to be recognised with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade. I am responsible for the entire business which includes the UK, France, Poland Germany, Nordics and Eastern European territories.”

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“I studied an ILM Level 7 Coaching & Executive Mentoring at The University of South Wales, completing in 2013. I selected the course as I have always had an interest in coaching and improving performance at all levels and ages. I have a passion for learning and development it’s enthralling to see people grow, attain skills and watch them fly.” 

“At the time of my studies, I was employed as New Product Development and Purchasing Manager for Bon Bon Buddies, and managed a number of staff including Senior Product Managers and Senior Buyers. I enjoyed the course, and have fond memories of undertaking the various models of coaching. It was a cathartic experience. The requirement to open up and expose my own vulnerability enabled me to reflect and I learnt an awful lot about myself.  It was a challenging experience but immensely worthwhile.”  

A high level of resilience is required and the ability to bounce back from difficulties and keep going.

“Since studying I have watched staff flourish and grow, including two of the team who replaced me in my former position as NPD Manager and Purchasing Manager. I also coached another member of staff who had limited self-belief – she now oversees HR in the UK and Europe.  I am a firm believer in transformational leadership and my coaching has helped me engage all teams, departments and territories across the entire business by selling in the organisation’s vision, communicating a common goal and creating a more engaging culture across the business.

"Never be afraid to have the big, challenging conversations with all staff and stakeholders, and ensure those conversations are held in a respectful manner.  

What advice does Justin offer today’s USW students?  “Walk in your own shoes and dare to be different, don’t feel as though you need to copy anyone else. Don't be be frightened to take risks. You need a high level of resilience and the ability to bounce back from difficulties and keep going. Keep thinking of the impression you are making so you can be the best leader you can possibly be, and taking people with you is the key to success.  Finally, never forget to have fun!”